Wednesday 31 January 2018

Cyprus - 21st to 26th January 2018

21st January

Thanks to the space saver we were able to go to Kouklia, as planned, to ring. Today we managed 27 birds, and that with just three nets as it was windier than forecast to start with and under threatening clouds we were rather conservative knowing how heavy showers may be.

We caught an assortment of Chiffchaff, Serin, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler with Stonechat and Bluethroat our best birds.

5M Bluethroat

Worth two photos, we don't get these too often.

Chiffchaff probably Albietinus race

5F Chaffinch

5F Stonechat

Female Serin

There are a few of the birds ringed here as the weather is not looking good for the next few days - there may not be much more ringing at all.

Total: 27

Robin - 1
Bluethroat - 1
Stonechat - 1
Srdinian Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 3
Chiffchaff - 11
Chaffinch - 1
Serin - 6

We spent a bit of time birding the area and finally caught up with the Slavonian Grebe now that the sea was less rough.

The bird was seen to catch and eat both fish and crabs.

Next a walk at Secret Valley where inspite of recent rains the lake was almost dry. We saw the usual Chiffchaff, Stonechat, Black Redstart and Sardinian Warblers along the way.

Secret Valley

There were also large numbers of Song Thrush secreting themselves in the bushes. We also had a brief view of a male Blue Rock Thrush on the green frame of a long decayed shed by the dry lake.
As well as some spectacular ornimental scrubs, a Common Buzzard was photographed as we walked back.

Beautiful Bougainvellea

Common Buzzard

A quick look at Paphos Sewage works confirmed the Chiffs and other small birds are still feeding on the insects from the poo piles, also 31 Spur-winged Plover and a Green Sandpiper present.

Spur-winged Plover

Green Sandpiper.

22nd January

The next day promised a heavy band of showers mid-morning so we started off by getting the tyre fixed, finding paint to match what we have throughout the entire house and seeing the estate agent.
By 9:45am we were headed to Paphos Headland but a menacing grey cloud extended out to sea from just off shore and we went for a drink as from experience it was likely to produce a shower guaranteed to soak, anyone caught out in the open, to the skin.

It was only a matter of minutes before the rain began, just as heavy as feared, sending Cypriots and tourists alike scurrying for shelter. Our coffee  bar was a uniquely Cypriot experience as it was filled with taxi drivers and undergoing a refit by two workmen, only one with any form of PPE fitting metal conduiting in the ceiling. We looked away as sparks showered onto the counter and the workman with a fullface welding mask continued with his arc-welding while workman two held everything in place whilst looking over his shoulder. Considering he couldn't look in the same direction as where the work was happening, he made a very good effort. He'd obviously done this before. For a moment I thought there was lightning in the swiftly moving clouds, then realised it was actually the reflection of that work happening behind the counter.

Once the rain stopped and the lattes were drained we continued on to the headland. Our first birds were birds feeding in the flowerbeds close to the entrance.


It was rather windy and Stonechats and Black Redstarts flitted amongst the ruins. We noticed that there were quite a lot of Greenfinch flocks feeding on the ground but the site held no surprises for us. 

Male Black Redstart

After walking all of the heritage site, we continued outside the fence. We had seen some Turnstone near the concrete groyne and hoped for Greater Sand Plover and Golden Plover. 

Just some of the 59 Golden Plover

There were also three Greater Sand Plover but the usual zilch on the sea, despite several days of strong winds..

Red-throated Pipit, one of three, photographed through the headland fence.

We then drove down to Mandria where there seemed much less around than when we visited a couple of days ago.

Black Redstart by the beach

As well as the usual Stonechats and Black Redstarts we found another Peregrine sitting out in a field. It seemed to be a different individual to that seen a few days ago.

23rd January

The next two days were an excursion up to the Larnaca area as this provides some birding not to be found around the Paphos area. First call was Larnaca Sewage Pools, which held the usual flock of Black-necked Grebes, totalling 69 birds, a single Little Gull, and five White-fronted Geese, which with numbers over wintering each year becoming less each year, it cannot be far off before there is a winter where these birds will be abscent. A check of a couple of the surrounding pools provided little apart from a female/immature Hen Harrier that we disturbed.

Marsh Harrier

female/immature Hen Harrier

A quick visit to Kiti Dam, which despite the heavy rain that has not collected any water, and only produced a Laughing Dove, possibly one of the few species in Cyprus that is expanding in numbers.

We then did a circuit around Laranaca Salt Lake that was actually holding quite a few Greater Flamingos and 602 Shelduck, and a mixed flock of around 300 waders, that were made up of Dunlin, Kentish Plover and Little Stint, plus four Ruff, a lot of Black-headed Gulls, and fourteen Slender-billed Gulls. There was very little else on the water, but the journey around the lake produced two Little Egrets, a Cattle Egret, 25 Spur-winged Plover, a Black Francolin, seven Water Pipits, a Bluethroat and Spectacled Warbler.

The Tekke on the side of the salt lake has a large colelction of cats but the presence of the Long-eared Owl roost is in doubt!

Little Egret

Most of the 25 Spur-winged Plovers

Catttle Egret

Grey Wagtail

View across the salt lake towards the airport

Painted Lady

We finsihed off at Oriklini Lake where we had 63 Cattle Egret come into roost, 35 Lapwings were present along with 8 Ferruginous Ducks, male and female Red-crested Pochard, a couple of Black-necked Grebes, five Water Pipits and two Bluethroats.


Black-necked Grebe

24th January

Rather than repeat what we had done the day before as it had been slightly quiet we decided to take a look at Achna Dam, which unlike Kiti was fairly full,  not to complete capacity but in areas that had not empty for some years. It is looking very good for spring, being a fairly shallow lake with quite a bit of waterside vegetation. We had nothing particularly special here, a few odd duck on the water, a female/immature Hen Harrier went over and a single Bluethroat was seen.

This is where a track had been made during lower water times.

Anemones - fresh with all the recent rain

An area that had been dry for at least 2 maybe 3 years, maybe more.


We paid another brief visit to Laranaca Sewage works, saw pretty much the same as we had done the day before, except a few Wigeon had appeared and the Pochard numbers had risen from one to five. A Spectacled Warbler was seen as we drove down to the hide.


Five White-fronted Geese

With it only being just past the middle of the day on the way back to Paphos we stopped off at Limasol, first of all at Zakaki were we saw a couple of Night Heron, three Moustached Warblers, and single Penduline Tit and Bluethroat, plus another female/immature Hen Harrier.

A drive down Ladies Mile produced the usual collection of Gulls, with a single Mediterranean, three Slendered-billed, 31 Armenian, and the usual several hundred Black-headed Gulls, plus a Sandwich Tern, and the same female/immature Hen Harrier.

Mediterranean Gull

25th January

The next was due to have heavy showers with a break mid morning. The break never came and we birded from the car for the day. We checked out Agia Vavara, Asprokremnos Dam and the mast area. We noticed that a lot of birds were feeding around some piles of waste from a dairy farm, seeing at least four Water Pipits, two Red-throated Pipits, Spectacled Warbler, some White Wagtails and Skylarks. A ray of sunshine for the day was a rather bedraggled Hoopoe.


We also drove along the track to Finikas. Every time we visit the buildings become more and more tumbledown. A Finsch's Wheatear was sheltering from the wind. There was more heavy rain overnight.


It looks as though ringing is off the cards for the foreseeable future while negotiations take place between Birdlife Cyprus and the Game Fund. At any rate there will be no licence before we go back and we are getting a bit jumpy about the likelihood of having it by the end of March. It is clearly no longer just a matter of the permits being with the minister for signing so the kit was taken out of the car and put away.

26th January

This leaves more birding time, only problem is the birds are quite samey in January. We had a look around Mavrokremnos Dam, then Potima Bay, the area where the new marina is due to be built. Stonechats and Sardinian Warblers of course and some largish flocks of Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

Corn Bunting

Then via Pano Arodes, very, very quiet, so quiet in fact that the blossom took my eye as there were so few birds.

We pushed on over the very rough track, seeing just the usual winter birds. The track was washing away in places after such heavy rains, then we reached a stream that required careful driving with direction from outside the car. Having almost reached the coast we then found another, much more difficult river to traverse. it could have gone either way but we and the car crossed unscathed. On reaching the coast , we helped a couple that had managed to get their rental car stuck on a rock - it was a tricky manoeuvre but we got them off and again thought how the 84 Euro upgrade to 4x4 was worth every cent.

Cape Dreparnum

We spent a bit of time at Cape Dreparnum where there were more flocks of Greenfinch mixing in with the Sparrows.

Greenfinchs and Spanish Sparrows

Blue Rock Thrush

A Blue Rock Thrush singing from the rocks by the little harbour was a pleasant addition, though this is a fairly regular site for them in winter.

Sand Crocus

Monday 29 January 2018

Cyprus - 18th to 20th January 2018

18th January

This was not a good time to have chosen to visit Cyprus. We have a forecast with heavy rain on some of the forthcoming days, with extremely strong winds too.

We limited our time out on day 1 as there were intermittent heavy showers.

This squall can be seen tracking towards the coast. When it finally arrived there was also hail.

Nothing to be found on the sea, only 40 or so Yellow-legged Herring Gulls moving east.

19th January

There was a dreadful storm overnight, a lot more rain, strong winds and some areas lost power although in that respect we were fortunate and we didn't lose our heating and lighting.

We planned to do  a general runaround of the local spots  to check out what's changed and remained the same.

A check of the sea by the fish ponds produced no Slavonian Grebe, 
only white horses racing towards the beach.

A beached Sea Urchin paid testament to the strength of last night's waves. 
It was rescued and duly returned to the sea.

Kouklia with flowing water. We've not seen it flike this or ages 
and the water won't be there for long.

Moving on to Mandria we found a few birds. The first was a Hen Harrier quartering the fields.

Hen Harrier

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon, race Calidus

Stonechats took refuge, among the citrus trees, avoiding the worst of the wind.

The fields held large numbers of Skylarks.

Bonelli's Eagle

Chiffchaffs were abundant around the sewage works, 
feasting on small flies.

Hooded Crow

We started to work Anarita park but had to return to the apartment for a meeting - but not before finding the Finsch's Wheatear.

Finsch's Wheatear.

20th January

The following day was less windy and we travelled over to Ayios Minas to try a ringing session. The catch rate was low and we failed to reach 20 birds. The best bird was a Siberian Chiffchaff - very pale underparts and grey on the mantle with some olive in the flight feathers with splash of yellow from the axillaries.

Chiffchaff showing characteristics for Siberian, on DNA shown to be collybita

Other species caught were limited to Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch and Robin.


Total: 16 (1)

Robin - 5
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler -  1 (1)
Blackcap - 4
Chiffchaff - 2
Greenfinch - 3

We took a drive up to a rather quiet Smigies Picnic site, then took a brief walk around the camp site at the Baths of Aphrodite. The coastal views were as beautiful as ever.

There seemed to be more caravens than we remembered, many looking the worse for wear and well past the days of hitting the road. The make shift fences were also recent, well, built at some stage since we last visited in 2009 at any rate! We saw a few birds including Black Redstart.

Baths of Aphrodite camp site

A call into Evretou Dam found the water level quite high. Ten Coots were grouped together, feeding around the margins. There were also White Wagtail and two Water Pipits here, along with over 40 Magpie. From the weedy vegetation we flushed Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and a few Corn Bunting. 

Corn Bunting

The sun was sinking as we drew closer to Paphos along the Polis road. While I photographed the impending sunset, Chris punctured a tyre on the layby gravel.

Reaching the town just after 5pm we were unable to find a tyre shop still open on this Saturday evening. Eager not to miss one of the few ringing days this stay in Cyprus, Chris switched the tyre for the space saver and resigned to try to replace the punctured tyre on Sunday afternoon - or more likely Monday morning (when it should be blowing a hoolie in any case).